U.S. general, Trump say downed drone wasn’t in Iranian airspace
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 6/20/19, 04:39 pm
UPDATE: The commanding general of the U.S. Air Forces Central Command in southwest Asia disputed Iran’s claim that the U.S. drone was flying in Iranian airspace when it was shot down. Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella said the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone was 21 miles from the nearest Iranian territory and flying at a high altitude when struck by an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps surface-to-air missile.
President Donald Trump, after first calling the strike “a very big mistake,” said later on Thursday during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House that the incident may have been unintentional: “I think that it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it.” He added that the drone was unarmed and unmanned and “clearly over international waters.”
OUR EARLIER REPORT (11:48 a.m.): The Iranian Revolutionary Guard on Thursday said it shot down a U.S. drone, marking the country’s first direct attack on the United States amid escalating tensions in the Middle East. The RQ-4 Global Hawk drone entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in the southern Hormozgan province, according to Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency. Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said the drone violated the national border. “Borders are our red line,” he said. “Any enemy that violates the borders will be annihilated.” The U.S. military’s Central Command called it an “unprovoked attack” and President Donald Trump tweeted that “Iran made a very big mistake.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin on a televised call-in show on Thursday warned the United States against pursuing military action against Iran, saying it would be “catastrophe for the region.”
Relations deteriorated between the United States and Iran after Trump withdrew from an international nuclear deal with the country more than a year ago. The United States blamed Iran for recent attacks on oil tankers, and Iran this week said it will soon exceed the uranium stockpile limit set by the nuclear deal. The Trump administration committed to send 1,000 more troops to the Middle East in response to Iran’s “hostile behavior.”
In a separate report, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed a missile strike against Saudi Arabia. A cruise missile fired by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels targeted a power plant in Jizan, near the Saudi border with Yemen. “We are closely monitoring the situation and continuing to consult with our partners and allies,” she said. The rebels have clashed with a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since 2015 in a bid to restore power to the internationally recognized government.
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